RYAN Ledson will miss the end of Oxford United’s season with a knee injury which also threatens to rule the midfielder out of the Under 20 World Cup with England next month.
While his absence from the final three games of the Sky Bet League One campaign, starting at home to Port Vale today, comes as an irritation, sitting out the tournament in South Korea would be a big blow.
The 19-year-old was out for a month after tearing cartilage in the warm-up at Southend United in September.
He has since made 30 appearances for the U’s, impressing sufficiently to be nominated for the EFL’s young player of the season award.
But a swollen knee while with England Under 20s last month saw him sent for a scan and United received the results on the eve of their Good Friday visit to Bradford City.
U’s boss Michael Appleton said: “You probably won’t see him between now and the end of the season.
“He feels fine and thinks he can play, but the scan basically says he needs a good rest.
“He’s had a lot of football and he’s a young player who is very combative.
“It looks unlikely he’ll be available in the summer as well.
“That’s not set in stone and it’s not 100 per cent, but there’s a chance he may not go away for the World Cup.
“He’s obviously upset, but he’s realistic to know the bigger picture is the most important thing.”
It is a tough call to make for what will be Ledson’s only chance to play at a tournament which has seen the likes of Paul Pogba, Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi burst on to the international scene.
But Appleton, who was forced into early retirement by a knee injury, says club and country have Ledson’s best interests at heart by treading carefully.
He said: “I think quite sensibly Procs (Andrew Proctor, United’s head of sports science and medicine) and the England team are thinking long-term and not short-term.
“He’s a sensible lad and is way above his age in terms of his personality. Once the dust settles, I think he’ll realise that.”
Toni Martinez has received treatment on a knee injury at parent club West Ham and is also a doubt for today’s game.
Vale’s main injury concern is over skipper Ben Purkiss, who limped out of Friday’s 3-0 defeat to champions Sheffield United with a thigh problem.
Oxford Utd: from Eastwood, Ribeiro, Nelson, Raglan, Skarz, Maguire, Lundstram, Ruffels, Rothwell, McAleny, Johnson, Hemmings, Hall, Long, Edwards, Dunkley, Carroll, Stevens.
Port Vale: from Mehmet, Taylor, Bikey, Smith, Kiko, Eagles, Kelly, Pugh, Foley, Reeves, Hooper, Turner, Cicilia, Purkiss, Fasan, Streete, Tanser, DeFreitas.